I am kind of crazy for Chinese dumplings, and dim sum, of all kinds. Any kind of dough filled with chopped pork or shrimp (or even vegetables), is my kind of food. Many people don’t realize how simple dumplings are to make. Most ingredients are pretty easy to find, and if you use store-bought won ton wrappers, most of the work is already done!
In Paris, we have several Chinese neighborhoods and I gathered everything up and made a batch of sui mai, sometimes called shumai, in English. They’re a mix of pork and shrimp, seasoned, then served with a lively dipping sauce.
A few notes on Chinese ingredients:
- Sesame Oil
The best sesame oil is made only from roasted sesame seeds and nothing else. Check the ingredients, as some brands mix sesame oil with vegetable oil.
- Fish Sauce
It smells a little off-putting, but tastes remarkable when mixed as a sauce or seasoning. Most store-bought brands are fine, but if you can find Red Boat, you’ll find it’s a lot better than the other brands.
- Fresh Ginger
Fresh ginger should always be rock-hard with no signs of mold or soft spots. You can peel ginger with a paring knife or vegetable peeler, but scraping it with a soup spoon works well to get around the nooks-and-crannies.
- Water Chestnuts
Fresh chestnuts are quite expensive in Paris, where they’re called chataigne d’eau. You can use canned, but the fresh are much better, and they’re easily available and inexpensive in Asian markets in the United States. If using canned water chestnuts, double the amount called for.
Fresh shrimp is expensive and I’ve found that good-quality peeled raw shrimp is fine to use for dumplings.
I sometimes hand-chop the pork which is a bit of work (I use boned pork shoulder or pork butt) but yields a nicer filling. If so, cut the pork into chunks and use a Chinese cleaver to chop it finely. Otherwise ground pork is just fine. For those avoiding pork, you can use ground chicken or turkey instead. You’ll probably need 2 packets of won ton wrappers. If you have extra filling, you can freeze it and use it for the next batch of dumplings. You can also make these as meatballs without the wrappers, which is a gluten-free option.
2 1/4 pounds (1kg) ground pork
1 pound (450g) raw shrimp, peeled
1 bunch scallions well-chopped (use as much of the green part that's edible)
1/2 bunch cilantro, chopped
2 tablespoons fish sauce
2 tablespoon salt
2 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 large egg
1 1/2 tablespoons roasted sesame oil
6 fresh water chestnuts, peeled and chopped
2 tablespoons minced peeled fresh ginger
Round won ton wrappers (2 packets)
1 tablespoon finely chopped peeled fresh ginger
1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic
2 tablespoons fish sauce
2 tablespoons white Chinese vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
3-4 teaspoons roasted sesame oil
1-2 teaspoons chili oil
1. Chop up the shrimp into small pieces and add to a large bowl along with the ground pork.
2. Use your hands to mix in the scallions, cilantro, fish sauce, salt, corn starch, egg, sesame oil, water chestnuts, and fresh ginger.
3. Form the meat mixture into balls about 1 inch (3 cm) round and place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
4. Brush a circle of water around the perimeter of a won ton wrapper and place a meatball in the center. Gather the edges up and press the wrapper against the meat making a tight little cylinder. Put on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or dusted with corn starch. Repeat with remaining meatballs.
5. To steam the dumplings, line a Chinese bamboo steamer with parchment paper with a few holes poked in it. Turn on the heat, and once the steamer is hot, steam the dumplings until hot all the way through, which will take about 5 minutes. (You can also use a steamer basket lined with cheesecloth or parchment paper with a few holes poked in it.)
6. Mix all the dipping sauce ingredients together. Serve with the hot, steamed dumplings.